Last week's New Yorker featured a profile of culinary it-boy David Chang and his trio of restaurants, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, and (brand new) Momofuku Ko. A lot of attention has been paid to the article's discussion of Chang's pefectionism, neuroses, and stress in dealing with the incredible amount of praise he has received. Others have obsessed over passages hinting at the possibility of a palatial Momofuku outlet opening in Vegas or even Dubai.
But, it was another passage that I found even more intriguing. It recalls an outburst by Chang when he discovered some shoddy technique by his cooks at the Noodle Bar:
At Noodle Bar, a junior line cook had been cooking chicken for family meal— lunch for the staﬀ—and although he had to cook something like seventy-ﬁve chicken pieces and the stoves were mostly empty, he’d been cooking them in only two pans, which meant that he was wastiing time he could have spent helping to prep for dinner. Also, he was cooking with tongs, which was bad technique, it ripped the food apart, it was how you cooked at T.G.I. Friday’s—he should have been using a spoon or a spatula. Cooking with tongs showed disrespect for the chicken, disrespect for family meal, and, by extension, disrespect for the entire restaurant.
Disrespect? For using tongs!
I have no formal training as a chef, but I love using my tongs. When I cook, they're like an extension of my hands. Of course, I wouldn't use them to flip a delicate fish filet for fear of tearing it apart, but they seem to do the job perfectly with chicken (at least for me).
So, have I been a disrespectful cook all these years? What do you think, home cooks and pros, tong lovers and haters? Is tong technique acceptable or should it only be reserved for cheesy restaurant chains?